To start off with, I'm not a vegetarian by any means, but I was intrigued by this title, since I don't see many books about vegetarianism or veganism...moreTo start off with, I'm not a vegetarian by any means, but I was intrigued by this title, since I don't see many books about vegetarianism or veganism come across the desk at the library. Plus the art is unusual.
The illustrations are unique and expressive, and while some reviewers seemed put off by the odd appearance of the animals, I felt the style worked fairly well with the writing.
What bothers me about this book is the simplified dualistic view it takes of farming. I believe children (and parents!) are capable of understanding that there are more options than eating animals raised on Evil Factory Farms and not eating animals At All. Moreover, since the author is taking an environmental approach to justifying vegetarianism, it ought to be mentioned in the text that in industrial farming both livestock AND crops contribute to pollution and the destruction of natural habitats, etc. And yes, it is suggested on the back page to look for foods that are "sustainably grown", but when a chief point of the book is the harm inflicted on the planet due to farming, the other factors (such as toxins in pesticides and fertilizer) should be more prominently taken into account.
Of course, you may argue, there's limited space in a children's book such as this, and the complexities of the industrial farming issue would go over most kids' heads. It's still wrong to ignore them. But then again, this book is written by and for vegetarians and vegans, so it's not in the author's interests to talk about alternatives such as locally-grown livestock, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, and other such farmer's market fare. This, IMO, makes for a very limited view of the issue, and therefore can't be the be-all-end-all reason why the readers don't eat animals. This book is a good place to start, and I'm glad that there are children's books talking about the impact of farming and the quality of life of those animals raised as livestock, but I fervently hope that this title serves as a platform for further and nuanced discussion with children, instead of an oversimplified explanation. (less)
The first half of Sykes' book is an incredibly thorough yet still accessible history of the use of mitochondrial DNA in tracking maternal genetic heri...moreThe first half of Sykes' book is an incredibly thorough yet still accessible history of the use of mitochondrial DNA in tracking maternal genetic heritage. It's a nice companion to Spencer Wells' The Journey Of Man, though I read that one ages and ages ago, and can't offer any serious comparison of methodology or anything. All I can say is it was understandable but not too easy, and I actually felt like I was learning something about the process, even though I've read up on this sort of genetic investigation before.
The second half of this book is a fanciful look at the seven "clan mothers" as Sykes calls them, and their possible lives; this is where things get silly. Serious Scientists will obviously have deep objections to Sykes' use of fiction to sell his point, and also that he's cashing in on this interest with a nice expensive genome tracking project (again, Spencer Wells has done the same, but with National Geographic instead of Oxford). Serious Scientists also, no doubt, are all riled up about Sykes very individualistic narrative of discovery, and of course he wasn't working on this stuff alone. But science is a nasty antagonistic business with rival cliques, and none of this came as a surprise to me. Author bias is bound to get into the narrative.
The main point of Sykes' book, though, is that it is not for the Serious Scientist. It's for the everyman (or woman, in this case) who wishes to find a personal ancestral connection to human prehistory. And in that respect, the book succeeds beautifully. I was engaged from the first page. While the life stories of the seven Daughters got a little over the top after a while, on the whole the book is a great way of getting people interested in the picture genetic heritage paints of the world.(less)
Like other reviewers have stated, this book doesn't pull any punches. Midkiff lays out the horrors perpetrated by agribusiness (ethical, economic, env...moreLike other reviewers have stated, this book doesn't pull any punches. Midkiff lays out the horrors perpetrated by agribusiness (ethical, economic, environmental, medical) and the government's complicity therein. This essentially reads like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle for the modern era, only the objective here isn't solely to illustrate the plight of the workers. The difference here is that the industrial food system has gotten to the point that in the production of animal "units" for human consumption, everyone suffers. Midkiff does an excellent job of making this point clear. The system is unsustainable.
One of the aspects of this book I particularly appreciated was the lack of political bias. Whether you're an animal rights activist or a farmer stripped of your livelihood by a feedlot or slaughterhouse, this book is for you. Midkiff says that he hasn't set out to write a book advocating vegetarianism or veganism, but to promote the support of small, sustainable farms and locally-grown meats. However, if you're looking for a reason to stop eating meat entirely, this book will certainly convince you. I myself will continue to be an omnivore, though I'm definitely going to find some alternative sources of meat and eggs in my area as soon as possible (Appendix B has a list of contact information for finding farmers' markets in each state).
I'm only giving this four stars becase Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma did an excellent job of taking a broader look at industrial food, including the menace of corn monoculture and industrial organic farming, compared to which the scope of Midkiff's work seems a little limited. However, this book is an excellent companion to Omnivore's Dilemma and I suggest you read them both.
Now if only I could figure out what to have for lunch today that won't make me feel unclean.(less)
I read this in two days, pretty much. A gripping story, though towards the middle and end of the book it got repetitive. Yes, Irene's husband was a ja...moreI read this in two days, pretty much. A gripping story, though towards the middle and end of the book it got repetitive. Yes, Irene's husband was a jackass, he maintained the same faults throughout the years of their marriage, and nothing seemed to change about it. A good intro book to the polygamist memoirs that seem to be popping up all over the place these days. "Escape" is next on my list. (less)
**spoiler alert** Interesting stuff, particularly the chapter about the development of apples, John Chapman, and the place of "sweet" in English vocab...more**spoiler alert** Interesting stuff, particularly the chapter about the development of apples, John Chapman, and the place of "sweet" in English vocabulary. This is more of a history book than an environment book, although with the beackground Pollan puts into his works there's not really a clear line between the two. Natural history. it's good stuff.
I don't really want to eat potatoes now. At least not industrialized, processed, edible foodlike potato products. Monsanto, what the heck are you people doing? It makes one wonder if maybe those folks shouldn't have to read Frankenstein every fiscal year or something, just to give them a sense of perspective.
The only downside of my taking so long to finish this book is that by now it's a little too late to plant my own garden! oh no! Still, this was an excellent read. And (SPOILER ALERT), he didn't eat the potatoes. (less)
absofreakinglutely hilarious. The film reviews section gets a little dry, but all the conspiracy theories about who actually wrote the works of Shakes...moreabsofreakinglutely hilarious. The film reviews section gets a little dry, but all the conspiracy theories about who actually wrote the works of Shakespeare are gold. GOLD. (less)